High life

High life | 13 July 2017

I was going through my paces in Hyde Park, sweating out the booze, raising the heartbeat with short wind sprints, keeping my mind off the weekend’s debauchery and the ensuing Karamazovian hangover. I sat down on a bench, took off my sweaty polo shirt, opened the Daily Telegraph, and took in some rays. A police

Low life

Low life | 13 July 2017

The hen party was seated at an outside restaurant table under the plane trees when I arrived. They sat with straight backs conversing normally, looked cool and lovely, and everything appeared seemly. Yet it was now ten o’clock on their first night on tour. They seemed unusually glad to see their chauffeur; apart from this,

Real life

Real life | 13 July 2017

‘What do you think it means?’ I asked the builder boyfriend as we stood in front of the sign. A huge placard, it had been hammered into the ground by the village action group. ‘Keep Our Village in the Green Belt’ is the gist of what it says. But behind it is another sign, which

More from life

My wife’s revenge has me at break point

Fifteen years ago, when I was The Spectator’s drama critic, Caroline used to complain that she had become a ‘theatre widow’. I was spending at least three nights a week in the West End while she was cooped up at home. Occasionally, I was able to persuade her to come with me, but most of

Wine Club

Wine Club 15 July

Marlborough, New Zealand, is one of the wine world’s sweet spots. One of the sweetest spots in fact, famed in particular for its spectacular, world-beating Sauvignon Blancs. But there’s much more to this beautiful region than just Savvy Blanc, and in the right hands other varieties thrive here too, positively beaming with delight in the

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 13 July 2017

Q. Is there an etiquette regarding security gates? My wife and I were invited to dinner by new neighbours who have bought a house formerly owned by lifelong friends of ours. In the old days, any visitor would have just swung in off the road through the open stone gates and made their way up


I nourish my dream of a fat pill

As good conversation should, the talk meandered from the serious to the playful. One of the serious topics was overseas aid. A generation ago, Peter Bauer, as fine a scholar as ever, addressing himself to that subject, produced a lapidary dictum: ‘Much overseas aid is a subsidy from poor people in rich countries to rich

Mind your language

Pride of lions

‘Are they all gay too?’ asked my husband, waving the Sunday Telegraph with its headline ‘Pride of Lions’. He had been delayed ​ in traffic in the sun during the Pride in London rally the day before and was still showing signs of confusion. The headline was referring, through a play on words, to the

The Wiki Man

To buy cheap art, buy architecture

Of the 375,000 listed buildings in England only 2.5 per cent are Grade I. Half are churches; many are otherwise uninhabitable, such as Nelson’s Column or the Royal Opera House. There are perhaps only 2,500 Grade I listed buildings in England in which you can feasibly live: these include Buckingham Palace and the Sutherland gaff.